The Tampa Bay Times

Each year around this time, in the middle of our tarpon season, fish that were abundant nearly everywhere seemingly disappear for a period of time.  Not all of them and not for long.  It’s a widely accepted belief many tarpon venture offshore to spawn around Junes’ full moon.  As they return, the once roe laden females may have gotten a bit leaner but you can bet a bit meaner.  We’re going be tuggin’ on tarpon through August but our tactics may have to change to stay productive.  There’s still going to be some but the majority of those large schools of tarpon seen rolling along our gulf beaches are going to break up.  The big wads of fish that were easy to track and sight cast to will thin.  Smaller pods, pairs and even singles will become the norm.  Now is when I like to go dredgin’..  It can be done anywhere tarpon roam.  It’s anchoring, throwing out six or eight rods in all directions, chum heavily and hang on.  I fish it in dozens of spots inside Tampa Bay that tarpon traditionally return to year after year.  Using this technique along the gulf beaches is hard to beat.  It’s more scenic than most of the “mudholes” we fish in the Bay.  The sharks and catfish aren’t generally as much of a nuisance either.  Both locations can at times be equally productive.  Bait is paramount and you need lots of it to do it right.  Fresh shad is my by far preferred first choice bait.  It’s not unusual to go through a five gallon bucketful of chum in just a few hour trip.  With shad not always readily available, distant second choices of bait could include mullet, ladyfish, large greenbacks, pinfish and grunts.

Captain Jay Mastry 

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